Acura task force's job: Define brand's identity

MIDDLEBURG, Va. -- While working to revive its sedan sales, Acura created a task force last spring charged with overhauling everything from product development and manufacturing to purchasing.

Led by Honda North America Executive Vice President Erik Berkman, the Acura Business Planning Office was given a free hand by bosses in Japan. It is still working on a blueprint.

Berkman told Automotive News during a media event here last week that the new Acura planning office in Ohio was born from a consensus among senior Honda executives worldwide that the Acura brand needed better coordination, organization and strategy.

Part of Acura's original mission was to act as a home for Honda owners seeking to graduate into more premium vehicles. That is largely still the case today, as shown by Acura's customer base, Berkman said.

"Long term, that may not be the ideal positioning or approach," Berkman said.

Among the issues being considered is Acura's brand image. The company is taking a long-term view of the role and identity of Acura in the marketplace, Berkman said.

"We may have some work to do to define what our brand values are, what we represent and what we stand for -- and make that crystal clear," Berkman said. "We have a consensus that we need to identify the direction, be clear about it, and then march forward." c

You can reach Ryan Beene at



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